Rattling the rafters, stirring the heart
|By James Sanford|
’Phantom’ retains its allure at Wharton Center
It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” made its debut in London’s West End and the show has remained a money-spinner ever since. That’s quite remarkable in the theater world, where today’s hot ticket can easily turn into tomorrow’s big yawn.
Why has “Phantom” continued to cast its spell over audiences while countless other (and some would say better) musicals have come and gone? That’s a question even Lloyd Webber probably couldn’t answer: Nothing he has created since — “Aspects of Love,” “Whistle Down the Wind,” “The Woman in White,” “The Beautiful Game” (now revised as “The Boys in the Photograph”), even “Sunset Boulevard” — has come close to matching “Phantom,” and the tepid-to-terrible reviews for his long-in-gestation “Phantom” sequel, “Love Never Dies” (which opened this spring in London and is slated to arrive on Broadway in 2011), don’t seem to bode well for its prospects.
The good news for longtime “Phantom” fans, or for those who might be catching the show for the first time, is that the current tour is a solid, suitably spectacular version of the blockbuster.
All the familiar elements are in place: the gondola cutting through the fog on a subterranean lake; the fireballs in the graveyard; the teeter-tottering ramps leading into the Phantom’s underground domain; and, of course, that sensational stunt with the chandelier that brings Act One to a (literally) smashing finale.Just as importantly, Tim Martin Gleason (in the title role),
Trista Moldovan as Christine, and Sean MacLaughlin as Raoul, give
vibrant voice to the score, which is now as familiar to musical theater
buffs as anything by Rodgers and Hammerstein or Jerome Kern. Gleason in
particular demonstrates crystal-clear enunciation that allows him to
give his lyrics an extra punch of drama that has eluded many other
Phantoms over the years.
Moldovan and MacLaughlin work similar magic on “All I Ask of You,” investing Lloyd Webber’s swoon-worthy melody with warmth instead of histrionics.
’The Phantom of the Opera’
Wharton Center 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, May 26-June 3; 8 p.m. Friday,